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Sermon 8/27/06
Song of Solomon 2:11-12 - The Winter is Past


   Audio Sermon

The Winter is Past

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)

A few mornings ago, I was seated on a plane that was soon to leave California and head for Arizona, where I was to be one of the speakers at a Men’s Retreat. I looked out of the window and noticed a young man who was dressed in the typical outfit worn by those who are seen next to departing aircraft everywhere. He was standing in the shade, leaning against a now empty luggage carrier, and everything about him looked – bored! An older, completely bald, heavy-set man now emerged into my view through the small window next to my seat. The man’s head was moving from side-to-side and he was obviously looking for something, which turned out to be the young man.

When he saw him, he beckoned for the younger man to get out of the shade and move over to the airplane. The young man, who was carrying two bright-orange batons, moved with some reluctance, stared blankly up at the cockpit of the plane and crossed the batons in front of his chest. I noticed that the heavy-set man had moved back, but was still staring across the tarmac at the younger man, and as the airplane started to move, the young man turned and walked back sluggishly toward the terminal.

That kind of apparent lack of enthusiasm is seen quite often in religious gatherings such as the church, which is sometimes called the “body of Christ.” Have you noticed the grim faces that may surround you on a Sunday morning? The teaching is fine, the music is good, but the faces all too often lack the enthusiasm expressed for OTHER events, like football games or the sale at a local store. The young man at the airport had been given a job to do and he was being given a reward for doing it – money; probably along with medical and dental insurance. He was participating in a work that is exciting because it facilitates the rapid movement of people from one place to another and the work of all involved is intended to save human lives. I then noticed through my small window that there were actually two young men moving away from the aircraft. As we departed, both of them looked bored, not unlike many “Christians” on a Sunday morning.

And yet there is hope for us all, as expressed in various forms within His written Word, the Bible. The Book that many have called the “Song of Solomon,” or “Song of Songs,” was written approximately 3000 years ago by King Solomon, of Israel. He was a man in love with love, a factor within his personality that caused him and his descendents a lot of trouble. There were too many women in his life and all of them tended to bring false gods into his household and to the nation. And yet, this man who personally did foolish things, also had the kind of wisdom that only comes from God. And that is true for many who love the Lord. God’s people are “gifted” by Him for service, but in areas other than our “gifting,” we are merely human, which leads to all kinds of problems.

The “Shulamite” girl he loved and talked about in the “Song of Solomon,” may have been a literal person, the love of his life, or she may also have been an allegory, the expression of his love for love itself. The nation Israel accepted this Book as part of the Old Testament Bible, practically from the time it was written, receiving it as an expression of God’s love for Israel. And that is true – God does view that nation as His beloved. You can see something of His love in places like Hosea 2:19-20, where God said to Israel through the prophet: “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” The Church reasonably accepted it in much the same manner, for God has a deep and permanent love for ALL who place their faith in Him. There were many in Israel with such faith and there are many in the Church who also exhibit that kind of faith. God accepts us on that basis, declaring us to be “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9 & context). He loves those who trust Him to the extent that we are like a beloved “wife” to Him. In other places, he refers to us as His “children,” using every means to reveal His intense, permanent love for you and me.

And yet, all too often, we are like that bored airport worker who has been given a job, which is a blessing, but his apparent response is dissatisfaction – he seems to want something else in life. As to you and me; we have been given simply – everything! We are like the beloved “wife,” the favored child, the delight of God for all eternity. And yet, when you look around at the stony faces on Sunday morning, the typical facial expression is like someone ran over your foot in the parking lot on your way into the service!

To compare the Book, the “Song of Solomon,” with God’s love for His people, is completely accurate. Again, Solomon’s direct intention in writing may have been to create a work of fiction, or it may have been an historical account of something that personally happened to him. We actually do not know. But we do know that many have been touched by the words of the “Song of Solomon,” to an extent that they were changed by the love of God in Christ Jesus – forever.

Many years ago, I supervised the County Clerk personnel within the five Juvenile Court branches of Los Angeles County. On one occasion, I ran out of “relief” personnel to be used as Superior Court Clerks and assigned myself to a courtroom in one of the branches. The bailiff in the courtroom saw me reading during the lunch recess and noting that it was the Bible, he began making fun of it. He had identified himself as a “lover” during the morning recess, bragging about his recent “conquests.” My response to his ridicule of Scripture was to open God’s Word to the “Song of Solomon” and I asked him to read the first Chapter or so. He did and he was shocked. I don’t know what happened to him after that because it was and is a big Court system, but his attitude changed - immediately.

He was deeply affected by what he had seen and it definitely CHANGED his response to the Bible. The Holy Spirit has included material in God’s Word that will surprise even the most resistant and can bring us all into a personal relationship with His Son. Once we are His and He is ours, we find, as in the Christian song of some years ago, that “the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” We at last look up from our problems and instead see His love. We discover that, “the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12). Receive His joy – today.

Father, life is often grim, but You are wonderful. Help us to look up from our troubles and find the love and joy of the Lord, now and forever. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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